A lot of senior students remember what it was like for them: You still feel like a secondary school student and in secondary school, everything felt familiar. But that time is now suddenly over. You are going off to study at a big university. So, what happens now? These seniors have the answers.
How do I meet fun people?
You may well find yourself in a flurry of social events in the first few weeks. These events are where you can easily meet people. Third-year International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics (IBEB) student Camille Rocke (21) did not know anyone when she came to Rotterdam. “I got to know almost all my friends through Eurekaweek or the introduction weekend of the study programme. For someone who came from France without any friends or anyone else, it was such a relief to get to know so many people there.”
For second-year International Bachelor Arts and Culture student Anja Tsalko (21), it did not quite work out that way. She did not hit it off with the first-year students of her first bachelor International Business Administration. Yet she did find a way to fix that. “I met almost all my friends and my current partner through Tinder. I looked for people who I thought would be genuinely fun to hang out with, with the same interests and that was a great success. Occasionally, there were people who had other expectations from a Tinder date, but more often than not, I ended up making a friend or a casual acquaintance with someone even if there was no romantic follow-up to the first date. It is important that you don’t have any expectations about a date, then you can just have fun.“
How do I find a room?
Medical student Dino Gačević (23) can highly recommend the student housing cooperative Stadswonen, even if there is a waiting list. You have to wait at least eight months for a place to live, but it is worth it. “If you are on the list and there is a place to live, you can then get a rent subsidy and your own large room. You are also given priority if you want to move on somewhere else. From the age of 17, I lived in a house belonging to this cooperative with older housemates. That was really nice and it taught me to be independent.”
Master’s student in Media culture and society Polina Kuzmina (23) has been responding to everything. “It is very difficult to find a house in Rotterdam, so keep on responding! International students like me should always ask if they are allowed to register. If you don’t register, you can be deported. After all, your chances of finding a place to live with your own front door are ten times better if you and a friend pretend to be a couple. Landlords like the idea of couples because they think they will party less.”
Where do I get the motivation to study?
What helped master’s student in Criminology Luuk van Tol (26) was that he was challenged to ask critical questions during his studies. “If that leads to more interesting interactions in the lecture hall, it motivates you to do your best.”
Should I quit if things are not going well?
Studying costs money, grades are important, and if you are not enjoying it, you are wasting your time. But that does not mean that you should just quit when things are not going well. Third-year IBEB and Law student Robina Sediqi (19) loathed the accounting course in her first term. Yet, in retrospect she does not regret that she kept on going with her studies. “If you are thinking about quitting, at least stay on until the second term so you can make a well-informed decision. In fact, I actually found my studies more interesting later on and I was able to see the big picture more clearly.”
How do I make it easier to study?
Studying can be extremely difficult, according to Anja, if you don’t look into how you can find the best way to study. Which is why she tested out several study methods last academic year. “In the first block, I read all the literature, while in the second block I didn’t read as much but paid extremely close attention during the lectures. The latter worked better for me.”
Polina can relate to experimenting, but for her, structure is especially important. “What really helped me was that at the start of a block, I made a schedule of what I had to do. I then went through the material at regular times with people who were just as driven as I was.”
How can I improve my concentration?
It may seem easier to concentrate than it is. For IBEB and philosophy student Tomas Havranek (23), for instance, finding a good, quiet study place was a precondition for being able to do his assignments. And he has found that place. “On campus it’s possible to study in empty study group rooms. It can be really quiet there. Especially once you find your own secret places. Now that I am almost finished anyway, I can highly recommend the third floor of the Van der Goot building. You’ve got plenty of space and a beautiful view there.”
For Luuk, it was harder to be able to concentrate. He suffers from aphasia, a disorder that in the form that he has is similar to dyslexia. “If you have a condition that makes it more difficult to study, it’s best to let the study advisor know as soon as possible. Then the study advisor will be aware of your situation and you won’t need to tell them again if you are experiencing problems. You can also request study facilities, such as extra time for exams, which can help you during your studies.”
Am I only living to study?
That’s exactly what Robina wondered about as a first-year student. “I was overwhelmed by the amount of lecture material in the first year. For me as someone with ADHD, the amount of work was really a lot. So, I started overcompensating. From the moment I woke up until I went to sleep at eleven pm, I was busy studying. I hardly saw any of my classmates or friends. At some point I realised that this wasn’t making my grades any better or my studies any more fun. It wasn’t until I made time for friends that I started to feel better.”
According to Dino, you actually become more resilient to study stress if you take time to enjoy your freedom and life outside of university. “Don’t just go out and party, but make time for a social life as well, keep eating healthy and go and go and get some exercise. It’s very easy to do sports via Erasmus Sport and it doesn’t have to take much time. I exercise four times a week for no more than 30 minutes each time. You simply feel much fitter then.”
Working alongside your studies is another great idea. But even then, it’s still important to see if the work is right for you. Dino was a doctor’s assistant for six months. “I found it really boring to be stuck behind the computer all day and take phone calls.” Third-year Clinical Psychology student Esther Rip (25) gets a lot of satisfaction from the work that she does at a voluntary organisation which helps people with eating disorders. “The wonderful thing about volunteering is that you can help all kinds of different people, which in turn, makes you happier yourself.”
Help! My question has not been answered, what do I do now?
Plenty of people are walking around the campus who are only too happy to help you. For instance, at ESSB there are mentors who are there specifically to help you with questions about life, study tips and making new friends. Keeping in touch with your Eurekaweek guide and study advisor is another good idea. Most likely they can answer a lot of your questions.